A recent poll of 2000 parents found that the average parent only has 48 minutes of ‘me time’ to themselves every day. Faced with the never-ending meals, chores and admin, parents are longing for more time for themselves.
Many of the families we support say that never having any time to themselves can leave them feeling overwhelmed. So we asked some parents whether they’d discovered any top tips for getting more ‘me time’ in their busy lives and they came back with some insightful suggestions.
Top tips from parents for parents
1. If I’m organised in the morning, I’ll get the slow cooker on or do something quick and easy for tea. That way, we can all sit down together for 6pm, get the dishes done whilst the bath is running and then when the kids are down there is no need to head back to the kitchen…except for a cuppa!
2. My kids love their cars and line them up to do races nearly every day. When I remember I get them to race the cars back to the play box they came out of so that they have tidied them away themselves before they’ve even realised. Similarly, I’m always amazed at how they like to do chores. They may use a whole can of furniture polish in the process but they’re always keen to clean!
3. Technology is great and doesn’t always have to feel a worry if the kids are on it- I know the boys needs their downtime after school with a screen. I’ll use that time too for myself before they start any homework and I start the tea.
4. Taking a picnic out and letting the kids play in the park is great as there is nothing to clear up afterwards and hopefully they’ll be happy playing and making friends for a bit whilst you can sit back and watch. Even better, go with a friend and enjoy the company!
5. Don’t overcommit to out of school activities for your children. Bear in mind that if you multiply up the number of activities child number 1 is doing by the time you get to 2 or 3 (or more!) children it can become burdensome and make life far more challenging than it needs to be. Trying to get all the kids into the same class is hard. I have friends whose children all went to gymnastics. But it never worked like that for us!
6. I get up at 6.10am and do a 30 minute workout before the kids get up in the morning. There are also fixed bedtimes for the kids. I like routine so when the kids were wee they always went to bed at 7pm. We extended the times as they got older but decided that 9pm was late enough for a teenager who needs to be up at 7am for school. If he’s not tired he can listen to the radio or read (no screens upstairs in my house). I need that hour to myself before I go to bed. Also staggering bedtimes for my 3 gives me some time with each of them. My wee one still goes at 7pm and we get some time to cuddle up and read stories. Then the middle one goes at 8pm so we have that hour to watch TV and chat and then I get the big one through to do the same until 9pm. I might be ironing or making lunches or whatever at the same time but I am there with them, listening and chatting.
7. Don’t iron (except shirts). And put the kids to bed earlier! This saves around an hour a day I’d say. Depends how late the children go to bed and how much earlier you can get them tucked up without them feeling rushed. Turns out that my toddlers actually needed more sleep and accept the earlier bedtime. It may not go down so well with older children who can tell the time!
8. Share a hobby with your children. Draw, paint, model, craft, anything that you can relax and work on side by side. Gives you ‘me’ time with a friend. Card making can be done at any level as can picture making. Stickers are great as are gummed shapes cotton wool (great for clouds). Probably important to prepare with area and put on apron (kids tend to like old shirts).